October’s first week has already harvested new horror movies like “Let Me In” and “Hatchet II,” and even more new releases will arrive as the month nears Oct. 31.
Yet, Hollywood has become its own kind of movie monster – pursuing sequels like “Saw 3D” annually, only to kill these horror franchises once they stop being profitable.
Luckily, quality scary movies can be found on Netflix queues or video rental stores for students avoiding multiplexes for their scares this year.
The Oracle suggests these movies for Halloween at home.
If you want a seasonal classic:
Despite its release 32 years ago, a tally of six sequels and a 2007 remake, “Halloween” is a rare effective horror movie that actually takes place on the holiday.
The story – which involves babysitter Laurie Strode’s attempts to evade mute asylum escapee Michael Myers during a Halloween night in suburban Illinois – remains a familiar template for today’s horror genre.
However, the film’s minimalist violence and workmanlike direction by John Carpenter – who also composed the film’s score – helps “Halloween” stand out from holiday-themed slashers that followed it.
Or watch: “Night of the Living Dead”
If you want a new horror film classic:
“The House of the Devil”
Staying at home doesn’t necessarily mean watching horror films from other decades, as last year’s atmospheric ’80s throwback “The House of the Devil” demonstrates.
The plot follows college student Samantha (Jocelin Donahue), who accepts an oddly lucrative $400 house-sitting job from the eccentric Ullman couple. The movie’s timeline then dovetails with a rare lunar eclipse.
The first hour’s buildup of Samantha getting the job and exploring the vacant mansion might be too slow for students, but the final half hour throttles into an intense and frightening climax – don’t watch it in an empty house.
Or watch: “Pan’s Labyrinth”
If you want an art-house horror film:
If you’re looking for frights that are surreal and nightmarish, David Lynch’s 1976 debut “Eraserhead” would serve as a perfect midnight movie.
The movie’s loose narrative follows factory worker Henry as he witnesses surreal chicken dinners, dreams about a girl stuck in his radiator and fathers one of the most unnerving babies in cinematic history.
The film’s famous fans include director Stanley Kubrick and poet Charles Bukowski, and it has placed on all-time scariest horror film lists like the Boston Globe’s. Still, the dank cityscapes and dreamlike qualities of “Eraserhead” may not suit casual moviegoers.
Or watch: “Suspiria”
If you want an antidote to “Twilight” vampires:
“Let the Right One In”
Unlike the vampires of the “Twilight” series, the ages-old girl Eli in this 2008 Swedish horror movie never glitters, and she absolutely needs to consume human blood.
Though the film includes scares and attacks, a tender coming-of-age story between bullied 12-year-old Oskar and Eli helps the film stand out from other vampire tales.
The American remake “Let Me In” was released last week, and except for a wisely deleted scene involving cats, it bears little difference from the original.
“Let the Right One In” is also available on Netflix Instant Queue, and the DVD version has fixed previous subtitle problems, making the film easier than ever to enjoy at home.
Or watch: “Thirst”
If you want multiple horror movies in one:
“Trick ‘r Treat”
This horror anthology film’s release was delayed for two years before finally going direct to DVD in October 2009, yet “Trick ‘r Treat” remains a worthy film with Halloween spirit forced under the radar.
The movie individually unfolds four stories occurring simultaneously on a Halloween night, including a mean child administered by a sinister school principal and a bitter old man visited by a small, pumpkin
Although Halloween rules, like “never blow out a jack-o-lantern before midnight,” are taken seriously, the dark humor throws movie conventions – like the damsel in distress and children remaining unhurt – out the window.
“Trick ‘r Treat” includes Anna Paquin, Brian Cox and Dylan Baker within its “Creepshow”-esque cast.
Or watch: “Dead of Night”
If you want comedy mixed with your horror:
“Evil Dead II”
Sam Raimi’s 1987 cabin-in-the-woods feature combines both scares and slapstick in its story of Ash (Bruce Campbell) accidentally unleashing The Book of the Dead’s monstrosities during a cabin retreat with his girlfriend.
On one hand, “Evil Dead II” sports plenty of jump scares and genuinely grotesque monsters.
Yet, the film’s over-the-top gore feels more like “Looney Tunes” than “Hostel,” especially in scenes with a disembodied hand and maniacally laughing furniture.
For further Halloween viewing, the original “Evil Dead” is a more traditional shocker made for under $400,000, and “Army of Darkness” goes all-out comedy as Ash and his Oldsmobile are transported to medieval times.
Or watch: “Shaun of the Dead”